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When is Yeast an Infection?

by Kimberly Rogers, CR, WCMT and NCMTB 

Contrary to what you may have heard, yeast (or Candida, the most common is the species Candida albicans), has a role in a normal functioning digestive system. Yeast or Candida, is part of the body's internal flora, with a preference to grow in warm, moist areas. However, a change in the composition of the body's flora and fauna or a disruption to the immune system can lead to superficial infections; most often occurring in the mouth, vagina, nails and skin folds. The immune system and the fauna (bacteria) work together to keep the internal flora (yeast) in check. Compromise either and the yeast can grow. For example, antibiotics which help destroy "bad" bacterial infections, also wipe out the good bacteria (fauna). Antibiotics are not discriminating. They are also not anti-fungal, which is what yeast is—a fungus. And that is how a baby can get a diaper rash (yeast infection) after taking antibiotics for an earache.

What about the immune system? It steps in to help when it can — remember, if you are taking antibiotics to get rid of a bacterial infection, your immune system is overburdened, trying to get rid of the very same infection. The immune system will work to get rid of the infection first, then work on getting rid of any overabundance of yeast. Also, common cortical steroid therapies can decrease the amount of white blood cells and may contribute to a yeast infection (often called Candidaisis).

Yeast likes to grow in warm, moist areas. Look for redness, swelling of soft tissue and a "yeasty" smell. There may also be heat and pain in the area. On the skin surface, reddish patches may be ringed by white pustules that leak a white secretion. Candidaisis can also be found in the ear and is a common cause of infant diaper rash.

According toThe Yeast Connection Handbook by Dr. William Crook, an overabundance of yeast can cause systemic problems: headaches, fatigue, memory loss, depression and more. He also goes on to claim that certain diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and Fibromyalgia may be yeast-related. On the other hand, Dr. Andrew Weil in Natural Health, Natural Medicine, does not believe that all yeast infections become systemic and cause the diseases listed. But he did add that testing for a systemic yeast infection is hard to do, since yeast is such an integral part of the body's natural flora.

There is a hoard of information on getting rid of a yeast infection. Whether you use nutrition, folk remedies, homeopathy, aromatherapy, massage and/or bodywork, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, a visit to your health care provider or a combination of these; don't fret — it is possible to check that overabundance of yeast and bring your internal flora and fauna back into balance.

Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary.
The Yeast Connection Handbook by Dr. William Crook.
Natural Health, Natural Medicine by Dr. Andrew Weil.

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